A total of 13 top lawyers, legal scholars and judges will battle for the post of Chief Justice recently vacated by David Maraga, who retired last month.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) disclosed the names of the applicants after close of the 21 days application period and said they will immediately start the process of verifying the applications to ensure they meet qualifications before shortlisting candidates for interviews.
“The commission will proceed to shortlist and publicize the list within 14 days as provided in the Judicial Service Act. The commission is committed to upholding professionalism and integrity throughout the recruitment process,” said JSC Secretary Ann Amadi.
Court of Appeal president Justice William Ouko, Court of Appeal judge Martha Koome, High Court judge Said Chitembwe, Employment and Labour Relations judges Mathew Nderi and Daniel Marete are among the applicants.
Also in the race are Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia, Philip Murgor and Prof Patricia Mbote. Prof Otinga Mare, Prof Moni Wekesa, Alice Jepkoech, Otondi Ontweka and Brian Matagaro are also seeking to be Kenya’s next CJ.
JSC also released names of nine seeking to replace retired Supreme Court judge Jackton Ojwang.
Justice Ouko has also applied for the Supreme Court judge position alongside Court of Appeal judges Martha Koome and Kathurima M’Inoti. Justices Chitembwe, Nderi, Marete are also seeking the Supreme Court post. Others are High Court judge Joseph Sergon, Alice Jepkoech and Dr Lumumba Nyaberi
Article 166 of the Constitution provides that the CJ and a judge of the Supreme Court must have at least 15 years experience as a superior court judge or 15 years’ experience as a distinguished academic, judicial officer, legal practitioner or such experience in other relevant legal field.
After interviews, one name will be selected and forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta for appointment after parliament’s approval.
From the judiciary, Justice Ouko is seen as strong contender because of his position as president of the Court of Appeal and his long tenure in the judiciary.
From among the lawyers, Ngatia is viewed as a front runner due to his many years in legal service of 36 years.
Murgor, a former DPP, claims he is the best candidate given his independence and non-compromising character that got him sacked to become the shortest serving DPP.
Focus shifts to JSC commissioners comprising of Justice Philomena Mwilu, Ms Mercy Deche, Mohammed Warsame, David Majanja, AG Kihara Kariuki, Patrick Gichohi, Prof Olive Mugenda, Felix Koskei, Macharia Njeru and Everline Olwande.